School district, LV Chamber call on community to help at-risk students graduate

Today, Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight D. Jones, along with the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Connections and United Way of Southern Nevada, called on the community to become volunteer mentors to help at-risk high school seniors graduate through the new Reclaim Your Future program.

The Reclaim Your Future program pairs at-risk seniors who are a credit or two short of meeting graduation requirements with an adult mentor. Mentors meet with their assigned student once a week to provide encouragement and inspire confidence.

"I've said ultimately we need our community to own these schools and raise the expectations we have of our young people," said Superintendent Jones. "I am happy to report that our partners, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Connections and United Way of Southern Nevada, have embraced the reform efforts in our schools and have stepped up for the students of Southern Nevada. The Reclaim Your Future initiative is making a difference in the graduation rate and the lives of students and is proving that our community cares about increasing the achievement of our young people."

McMillan pledged support of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce in recruiting mentors, particularly through the Leadership Las Vegas and Vegas Young Professionals programs. Vegas Young Professionals is the largest organization of young professionals between 21 and 39 years of age. Leadership Las Vegas has more than 1,000 alumni, many of whom are still actively involved in the community. Gina Gavan, chairman of the Leadership Las Vegas program, shared her commitment to reaching out to fellow Leadership alumni to volunteer in this capacity.

The Chamber will also host a training workshop in February that is open to the general public (see details below).

"Increasing the graduation rate is an important step in improving our education system and ensuring that we have the workforce we need to diversify and grow our economy. While the Chamber continues to work with Clark County School District and other community partners to adopt practices that will elevate our education system, the Reclaim Your Future program is a tangible, immediate way to make a difference in a student's life right now," says McMillan. "Business leaders can provide guidance that can help them graduate and can also serve as role models as they prepare for their future."

The Reclaim Your Future graduation initiative focuses on 10 high schools with two components that rely on community involvement. To date, 2,000 students at 10 schools have been identified to be in need of a mentor. Research and the success of other similar programs show that having a caring, responsible adult involved in the education of a student makes a big difference.

Another aspect of the program are visits to the homes of students who may have dropped out or at risk of dropping out. In September, the community reclaimed 300 dropouts through those efforts

Workforce Connections and United Way of Southern Nevada have each pledged financial support of the program, particularly in underwriting the costs associated with background checks of volunteer mentors. Cass Palmer, president & CEO of United Way of Southern Nevada, echoed its support of the program to make a difference in the lives of these children and for the community as a whole.

The next training session for adults interested in becoming volunteer mentors is

Monday, February 13; 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce,
6671 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 300 (in Town Square).
To register for the training, please contact 702.799.6560

Contact Cynthia Sell, (702) 799-5304